Ward Thomas’ different perspectives playlist

The British country-pop sisters pick the songs that inspire them to look at the world differently

In spite of everything, Ward Thomas are feeling hopeful. Writing their fifth album in the wake of the pandemic and the shadow of the Ukrainian war, sisters Catherine and Lizzie Ward decided to celebrate the uplifting power of music with a record bursting with good feeling. 

“We’re optimistic people,” says Catherine, sharing a phoneline with her twin. “It feels more important than ever right now to feel positive. And to write songs that make us feel good. The world is such a mad and chaotic place to be, so we felt like we had to release this record now. It feels relevant.”

Built on harmonies and powered by synths, Music In The Madness is Ward Thomas’ most accomplished album to date – mixing up an alt-country cocktail of pop-rock influences from Fleetwood Mac to Taylor Swift. 

As the Thomas twins prepare for a major UK tour starting on March 30, we asked them to curate their own playlist on a theme of their choice. “The idea of looking for fresh perspectives just feels very similar to what we’re doing at the moment on the album,” says Lizzie. “These are the songs that we gravitate towards that share that idea. Songs that reflect a bit of our place in the world, however different that might seem to everyone”.

Traveller’ – Chris Stapleton

Catherine: “We’ve loved Chris Stapleton for years now, but he’s become really big in the last couple of years – and I’m so happy that he has. I feel like he was almost an indie artist about five years ago. People knew of him, and he was in the limelight, but he wasn’t known globally. He really is a true Americana artist, but he can also wear a few different hats, and he fits into a few different genres within the music industry. He’s a real artist’s artist too. Everyone wants to collaborate with him – including Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake, obviously. But I thought ‘Traveller’ was a really good song to start this because it kind of follows a similar theme to Music In The Madness. It’s talking about your place in the world and your journey through it.

Lizzie: “I think also I can relate to the song because it’s about moving. Even if you’re not literally travelling, we’re all travelling through life and through a tiny part of the whole universe. I think we’re always learning and developing too. We’re now on our fifth album. We’re 28 years old. Catherine’s married and has a baby on the way and we’re both in a completely different stage of life than we were when we started this at 17. So like songs to kind of take people on a journey.”

‘My Tears Ricochet’ – Taylor Swift

Lizzie: “I think the whole Folklore album was just Taylor’s best work, ever. She’s writing from an interesting perspective, writing about her teenage life as a 30-year-old woman living an adult life. Your relationship to your own music changes as you get older. When you’ve just written them, especially when they’re quite emotional songs, they’re often very raw. And then when you get on stage and sing them again now, you see them from a very different perspective. You remember the part of you that once felt that way, even if you don’t feel the same now. 

When we wrote ‘Push For The Stride’ [from 2014’s From Where We Stand], that was from a phase that our dad taught us when we were learning to ride horses and jump a fence. He always used to say, ‘you’ve got to push for the stride’. And we took that saying and put it into our songs about, you know, being ambitious and taking a leap of faith. When we sing it now, we look back at that time – those first leaps we made when we were literally just 17 years old.”

Catherine: “Also we’re just massive Taylor Swift fans! We’re not Swifties – we wouldn’t, you know, get all of the merchandise and stuff – but every time she releases an album we’re literally buying it everywhere. So many other songwriters will say the same thing, but her songs are just brilliant. I know a lot of her loyal fans weren’t as into some of the tracks on Reputation, because it went in quite a different direction, but the songwriting on that album was just so good.”

‘The Chain’ – Fleetwood Mac

Catherine: “Our parents were in a covers band and they sang a lot of 60s and 70s rock covers, so we grew up with Fleetwood Mac. Our mom was a big Fleetwood Mac fan, along with ABBA. She loved a big sound. Rumours is probably one of the best albums ever made though. Obviously there was a lot of drama that the band were all going through, which is very interesting, but ‘The Chain’ is just faultless. It probably has the most epic start to any song ever written too.”

Lizzie: “We do get sometimes get compared to Fleetwood Mac and, yeah, that’s obviously just a huge compliment. It makes us very, very happy. But it also makes us have to say that we’re not anything like Fleetwood Mac!”

‘Right On Time’ – Brandi Carlisle 

Catherine: “Brandy Carlisle… I mean, what can you say? She’s got a way of writing an song that if anyone else sang it, it would be like, ‘wow, that’s an amazing song’ – but then she sings it and it just becomes something else. The emotion and feeling in her voice is just incredible. ‘Right On Time’ just has that hearbreaking voice break too. I don’t know how she does it.”

Lizzie: “It’s so Brandi. No one else can do that kind of break. I mean, everyone has a break in their voice, but not like her. It’s really unique. She wrote that track in lockdown too, which is obviously a whole other level. We made Invitation during that time, working remotely, which was just a huge challenge. We were doing our vocals in our front living room, wearing pyjamas, drinking tea, and always having to stop because the dogs were barking in the background or a chicken was on the window. But you also don’t know if anyone is even listening without gigs and shows and all the promo stuff – you just have to release it and hope for the best.”

‘Oh What A World’ – Kacy Musgraves

Lizzie: “This song is just so uplifting. And I think that’s what we really wanted to achieve when we were making our own record. Kacey Musgraves did so beautifully. That whole album feels so serene. Golden Hour is exactly right.”

Catherine: “It’s that sense of optimism. Again, it’s something that we were trying to convey in a lot of the songs on our album – that idea of kind of seeing all the beautiful things this world has to offer and actually cherishing them and valuing them.”

‘Village’ – Cam

Lizzie: “Cam is an artist that we were aware of for a really long time. She was signed to the same record label as us, and we crossed paths a lot with her in and around London when she was travelling, and then we saw her in the States. And then when it came to releasing our song, ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’, we thought she’d be perfect. We just sent her a message on Instagram, we sent her the link, and she went straight into the studio to record it. And it really came to life. We went to see her Shepherds Bush gig after that and there’s something about how she speaks on stage. I already loved her songs, but the way she introduces them gives you a whole new experience of the song. For the song ‘Village’, she was basically telling the whole audience that a close friend of her brother died many years ago, and this song was for her. It was so emotional, and so beautifully done. Goosepimples.”

‘Something In The Orange’ – Zach Brian

Catherine: “Zach’s great. We found him when we were watching Yellowstone. I mean, he’s really big in Nashville at the moment, so we knew of him, because he’s talked about everywhere over there. But when we were home, watching Yellowstone, we were like, ‘who is this?! He’s amazing!’ 

Lizzie: “My other half is obsessed with him too. ‘Something In The Orange’ is always on in my kitchen, and I think I just fell in love with that whole record. He just feels like a really authentic musician and songwriter too. He’s making music for all for the right reasons.”

‘Music In The Madness’ – Ward Thomas

Lizzie: “We picked the title track off the new record here because it just depicts what the album is all about. There’s another song on it though called ‘Love Does’, and that’s both a favourite of mine and Catherine’s. But ‘Music In The Madness’ was really the starting point for us. We were writing during the first week of the Ukrainian war, when the footage was coming out of the little girl singing Frozen in a bunker, and all of that just really resonated with us. That’s kind of what inspired us to write that song in the first place, so we wanted to try and represent that in the music video in the best way possible too. Honestly though, I just can’t wait to start getting these songs out there in front of an audience. That’s the ultimate reward. 


Ward Thomas are playing UK shows between March 30 and April 17. Get tickets here.